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Help Us Rate the Airline's Vegetarian Menus

Posted on 2003/5/28 9:45:02 ( 974 reads )


KAUAI, USA, May 28, 2003: Hinduism Today is preparing a story on in-flight vegetarian meals, inspired by the discovery that EVA's "Hindu" meal includes chicken. Send a short statement to "source" on your experience with in-flight vegetarian meals, including your best and worst experiences and your suggestions for fellow veggie travelers.

US$10 Million Settlement Awards Announced in McDonald's Beef-Laced French Fries Case

Posted on 2003/5/27 9:49:02 ( 999 reads )


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, May 21, 2003: A Cook County judge has named 24 groups to divide a US$10 million settlement from McDonald's over beef-laced french fries, resolving a dispute about which organizations would share in the awards. The ruling Monday by Circuit Judge Richard Siebel followed months of legal wrangling since Oak Brook-based McDonald's agreed to the payment last year. The settlement was intended to make amends to customers who unwittingly ate the fries cooked in beef-flavored oil during the 1990s, when the burger chain had said it used only pure vegetable oil. Lawsuits filed in Illinois and other states charged the restaurant chain deceived people who don't eat meat for personal or religious reasons. McDonald's offered 60 percent of the settlement to vegetarian groups, 20 percent to Hindu and Sikh groups, 10 percent to children's nutrition and hunger-relief efforts and 10 percent to promoting understanding of kosher practices. Last month, Siebel rejected three proposed groups, but he added the Hillel Jewish group.

HPI adds: The list of organization receiving funds was also released by the courts. There is an unlikely chance of appeal which could change this list. They are, along with the dollar amount and percentage of the total as follows:

Vegetarian Organizations, total: US$6,000,000.00

1. Vegetarian Resource Group $1,400,000 [14.0%]

2. ADAF Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group $600,000 [6.0%]

3. Preventive Medicine Research Institute $550,000 [5.5%]

4. North American Vegetarian Society $1,000,000 [10.0%]

5. Vegetarian Vision, Inc. $250,000 [2.5%]

6. The American Vegan Society $500,000 [5.0%]

7. Loma Linda University $300,000 [3.0%]

8. Tufts University $850,000 [8.5%]

9. Muslim Consumer Group For Food Products $100,000 [1.0%]

10. Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) $450,000 [4.5%]

Hindu/Sikh Organization, total: $2,000,000

11. International / American Gita Society $50,000 [0.5%]

12. Hindu Heritage Endowment $250,000 [2.5%]

13. SEED (Supporting Excellence in Education) $900,000 [9.0%]

14. Council of Hindu Temples of North America $200,000 [2.0%]

15. SSV Temple $50,000 [0.5%]

16. Guru Harkrishan Institute of Sikh Studies $50,000 [0.5%]

17. Hindu Students Council $500,000 [5.0%]

Kosher Groups, total: $1,000,000

18. Jewish Community Centers Association $200,000 [2.0%]

19. Orthodox Union $150,000 [1.5%]

20. Star_K/Torah.Org $300,000 [3.0%]

21. CLAL $50,000 [0.5%]

22. The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life (Hillel) $300,000 [3.0%]

Children's Groups, total: $1,000,000

23. Produce for Better Health Foundation $500,000 [5.0%]

24. CDC's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity $500,000 [5.0%]

Hinduism Today magazine is planning a story on the settlement, and would like the organizations to e-mail ar@hindu.org their plans for their share.

Women Take the Lead to Empower Themselves

Posted on 2003/5/27 9:48:02 ( 966 reads )


TEHRI, INDIA, May 25, 2003: In the remote hilly regions of Uttaranchal, where the constant struggle for life is an everyday affair for most women, a social forum has succeeded in changing their lives by connecting its activities with their daily routine. "We have connected our activities with 'Jal, Jameen, Jungle aur Zindagi' (literally, "water, earth, forest and life")," says Kusum Rawat, state coordinator of Mahila Samakhya, a five-year project of the central government and a powerful pressure group that protects women's rights. The impact that Sahara Sangh has had on the daily lives of women in these hilly districts, can be felt everywhere -- ranging from stopping of child marriage to rallying around a fellow comrade when her family subjected her to harassment. The Sangh has monthly meetings on the 8th of every month which are attended by representatives from every village. These meetings are crowded with everyone wanting to get a word in on how they had contributed to the cause in the past one month since the last meeting. Rajashree narrates how the Sangh in her village helped to stop her daughter being abused by her husband by sending him a letter and issuing an ultimatum that if he did not stop his behavior, he and his family would have to face social ostracism. In fact, social boycott is a very effective tool that has helped in keeping the antisocial elements in villages at bay, says Rawat. The Kishori Sangh, which is a group for teenage girls too is growing in the rural areas and as Unita Damwal, a 15-year old says, it has stopped many an injustice by the simple technique of dialogue. Talking about the problems which the Sangh has effectively tackled, Rawat says passing on water harvesting techniques to village women, as also the practice of clearing mountains of twigs to prevent forest fires and protecting the ecology around the village have helped women identify with the Sangh. "The women are now slowly gaining confidence that their destiny is in their own hands. In fact, a few days ago when they suspected that a sarpanch of a neighboring village had embezzled US$570 from the panchayat (village council) funds, the women sat on a dharna (protest) in front of his house and demanded that he give back the money. The pressure was so intense that he had to relent," says Parvati and the entire amount was returned to the panchayat.

Dot-Com Bust Affects NRI's Charity

Posted on 2003/5/27 9:47:02 ( 1093 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, May 24, 2003: Two out of three nonresident Indians in the Silicon Valley have been significantly affected by the dot-com bust and the impact has reflected in the community's philanthropy. Two surveys, one conducted last month and the other two years ago, show how NRI attitudes in the Valley towards philanthropy have changed with the economic cycle of boom and bust. A survey conducted last month, among 46 charter members of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE) on the impact of the dot-com bust says that NRIs are now giving lesser amounts to fewer charities. "The nature of the impact has been predominantly to 'give less.' There is a 3-to-1 decrease in giving over increase. Of those giving less, two-thirds have reduced their giving by 50 percent or more," says Shahnaz Taplin of Shahnaz Taplin & Associates who has conducted the study.

At the peak of the boom, Professor Tyzoon Tyebjee of Santa Clara University and Shahnaz Taplin and Associates had conducted a qualitative study, "NRIs: Care, Commit, and Contribute." The study focused on Silicon Valley NRIs, specifically, social entrepreneurs and IT professionals and showed record giving at the peak of the economic boom by Silicon Valley. The study highlighted patterns and profiles of giving and factors like childhood imprints, family traditions, religious teachings and socioeconomic reasons that influence the Diaspora generosity. It focused on attitudes, motivations and deterrents to philanthropic giving among 'Midnight's children' (born around the time of India's Independence), Generation X and women. At the peak of the economic boom, many NRIs were contributing increasingly generously to Bay Area nonprofits believing, that "charity starts at home in their own backyards." The bust reversed this trend, as NRIs now prefer to then send contributions to charities or nongovernmental organizations in India. The lack of accountable, trustworthy and credible institutions through which NRIs can transmit funds to Indian NGOs has been cited as a reason that acts as a significant barrier towards charity.

Canadian Textbook Publisher Promotes Religious Understanding

Posted on 2003/5/26 9:49:02 ( 1159 reads )

Hinduism Today

Kauai, USA, May 26, 2003: Thomson Nelson, a school text publisher in Canada, is including two excerpts from Hinduism Today in its upcoming book "My Place in the World" for ninth graders. The book's straightforward advocacy of religious tolerance is really quite remarkable, as shown by their choice of excerpts.

The first excerpt: "The following was published in Hinduism Today (March, 2002): 'In Australia, Sydney's Anglican Archbishop, Rev. Peter Jensen, at an August crusade shocked many with his comment that non-Christians and Buddhists in particular were brought to Australia by God to enable them to "share in the gospel of the Lord Jesus." Vehement objections were published in The Sydney Herald. Dr. A. Balasubramaniam wrote, "Jensen's comments are breathtaking in their arrogance. Christians do not enjoy a monopoly on the route to heaven." '

"Student assignment: Write a short letter to Jensen expressing your views."

The second excerpt: "Reporting fairly and accurately on the activities and beliefs of individuals of different faith traditions can be a challenge for reporters. For example, in 2001, the largest-ever Kumbha Mela was held in India. Some Hindus objected to the media coverage of this event by Western journalists stationed in India. Hinduism Today magazine had a detailed complaint:

" 'Did journalists and photographers have a narrow depth of field? Sooner or later, some conscience-struck journalism student will finally send Hinduism Today a copy of "The Journalist's Guide to Reporting on Hinduism." We already know what is in it: "If you are a journalist posted to Delhi for a year, then proceed in sequence to report on the following items: child marriages, widow burning and abandonment, bride burning and beating, caste oppression, the Ram temple, Hindu fundamentalists, harassment of Christians, phony gurus, greedy priests and, when you really have nothing else to report, the rat temple. At no time in your reports shall you extol Hinduism or ever compare any of these topics to identical or parallel issues in the West, such as teenage pregnancies, abuse of the aged, domestic violence, racial and ethnic discrimination, Christian fundamentalists, harassment of religious minorities, disgraced preachers, pedophile priests, or even the pervasive mistreatment of laboratory rats." '

"The quotation makes clear how easily Western journalists can fall into the trap of presenting the same old picture of India to their readers. And it raises a question for anyone living in Canada as to how accurately we understand India and other foreign nations."

The Changing Face of Religious Affiliation in Canada

Posted on 2003/5/26 9:48:02 ( 998 reads )


OTTAWA, CANADA, May 13, 2003: Canadian population demographics have been released on religious affiliation from the May 15, 2001, census. While seventy percent of Canadians identify their religion as Roman Catholic, the largest religious group in Canada, the churches' devotees are dropping steadily. In contrast, the number of Canadians affiliating themselves with religions such as Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism are rising, the new census data shows. "At the same time the number of Canadians who reported religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism has increased substantially. These religions showed large increases during the 1990's because of the large number of immigrants coming to Canada." For example, in the 1991 census, 253,000 Canadians identified their religion as Islam but in the 2001 census the number rose to 579,600. Statistics Canada also says that the number of individuals identifying themselves as Hindu has increased by eighty-nine percent since 1991. According to the survey Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Muslims make up about one percent of the country's population and most Hindus and Muslims live in Ontario. HPI adds: Disclosure of religious affiliation on the census was voluntary, therefore the numbers likely do not accurately reflect the Hindu population in Canada. Other estimates by Hinduism Today put the number of Hindus in Canada closer to two million, based on the number of immigrants present from India, Sri Lanka, Fiji and other countries with large Hindu populations.

British Fast Becoming Vegetarians

Posted on 2003/5/26 9:47:02 ( 1008 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, May 21, 2003: The following revelations coincided with the celebration of the National Vegetarian Week: if Britons continue to turn vegetarianism at the current rate, it is predicted in 50 years the traditional roast and full English breakfast will be consigned to the dustbins of history. Around 2,000 Britons a week are converting to vegetarianism and if the trend continues, by 2047 the British population will be predominantly vegetarian. The news will please the government struggling to cut the number of patients waiting for hospital admissions, for it is said that vegetarians enjoy better health. According to the study, the average vegetarian visits the hospital 22 percent less often than a meat-eater, saving the National Health Service around US$5,280 per person per year.

Seychelle Archipelago's Hindu Temple

Posted on 2003/5/26 9:46:02 ( 1006 reads )


SEYCHELLE ARCHIPELAGO, May 23, 2003: Tamil writer, Vijaratnam Sivasupramaniam, tells the world about the Seychelles islands in his new book, "Decade of growth." The Seychelles are located southwest of India and east of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. Hindus began organized religious gatherings in 1984 when they formed the Seychelles Hindu Kovil Sangham. The Sangham went on to build the first and only public Hindu temple in the archipelago. The Seychelles Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayaka Temple was completed in 1992.

Mansarovar Yatra Correction

Posted on 2003/5/26 9:45:02 ( 979 reads )


KAUAI, U.S.A., May 26, 2003: Sadhvi Bhagwati, from Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, has written with additional information regarding yesterday's story on the cancellation of this year's Mansarovar Yatra: "Although the Indian Government has indefinitely postponed their yatra due to China closing the land route over Lipulekh Pass, regular yatras to Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash will begin again at the end of June for the Lipulekh Pass and on July 1 for the by-air-through-Lhasa route. China Air (or Air China), who fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, have given the official and formal information last week that as of July 1 they will begin flying that route. They have started taking reservations again. I have also heard from agents in Kathmandu that the overland route from Kathmandu will begin in the 3rd week of June. It is only the Indian government yatra which has been indefinitely postponed. All of the agents in Kathmandu are taking reservations for July onward. I know this as we were planning to go on yatra from 4 June, but it was postponed until 2 July. We now have received 100% confirmation from the airlines and agents that the yatra will, in fact, be on in July."

Top Barrister Preeta Bansal New Member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Posted on 2003/5/25 9:49:02 ( 1009 reads )


WASHINGTON D.C., U.S.A., May 24, 2003: Persistent lobbying by Hindu-Americans, especially after last year's violence in Gujarat, to have an Indian-American on the US statutory commission which oversees religious freedom worldwide has paid off. Preeta Bansal, who was earlier solicitor-general of New York and a White House counsel in the Clinton administration, was last night nominated to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), sources on Capitol Hill said. She will be the nominee of Senator Tom Daschle, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate. The USCIRF is made up of nominees by the US President, the speaker of the House of Representatives and leaders of both the Democrats and the Republicans in the House and the Senate.

The Commission has carried on a virulent campaign against India after last year's violence in Gujarat, blatantly colluding, in the opinion of many Hindu observers, with right-wing Christian organizations in America to hold hearings on Gujarat and put immense pressure on the US state department to declare India a "country of particular concern" (CPC) for its record in upholding religious freedom and minority religious rights. It is the same category assigned to totalitarian states such as Iran and hardly applicable to a country with India's thousands of years of religious freedom. CPCs in religious terms are the equivalent in terrorist terms of the list of "other terrorist groups" prepared by the state department annually before such organizations are listed formally as "foreign terrorist organizations" and penalized.

The USCIRF has no powers of its own, but it advises both the White House and the Congress on the state of global religious freedom. Even though its recommendations are regularly ignored by the State Department, it has a lot of nuisance value and can be a tool for propaganda, as it happened after the Gujarat violence. Hindu-Americans have always questioned the commission's credibility since it has never had an Indian or a Hindu among its members. American Sikhs have also been critical of the body. Its members so far have included representatives of Jews, Baha'is, Muslims and various Christian denominations.

Bansal, an highly respected expert on constitutional law, was born in Roorkee and arrived in the U.S. with her parents at the age of three. She is a graduate of the Harvard Law School. Last night, Indian Christian organizations in the U.S. were guarded in their reaction to Bansal's appointment. Jayachand Pallakonda, president of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) said: "I am very impressed with Ms Bansal's law background... I hope Ms Bansal also has a good understanding of the religious issues confronting South Asia especially India."

As New York Solicitor General, Ms. Bansal oversaw a staff of six hundred lawyers in the Department of Law, and directly supervised forty-five lawyers in the Solicitor General's Office who handle appeals for the State of New York and its agencies in state and federal courts. She argued regularly in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts on behalf of New York State.

She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa of Harvard-Radcliffe College, and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. She was Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review. She served as a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court (1990-1991) and to Chief Judge James L. Oakes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1989-1990). Prior to her appointment as New York Solicitor General, Ms. Bansal practiced law with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in New York City (1996-1999), and previously with Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. She also served in the Clinton Administration (1993-1996) as counselor to Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein in the United States Department of Justice (Antitrust Division), and as Special Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel. She is broadly interested in empowering South Asian Americans to serve their local communities in a variety of ways throughout the United States.

SARS Outbreak Indefinitely Postpones Mansarovar Yatra

Posted on 2003/5/25 9:48:02 ( 1012 reads )

Times of India

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 24, 2003: It has been officially announced that the Kailash Mansarovar yatra has been postponed indefinitely due to the closure of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). The Indian government was informed by the Chinese authorities that they were not allowing any tourists into the TAR in an effort to keep the area SARS free. Therefore, the yatra which passes through the Lipulekh pass, has been postponed till the Chinese government opens up the route. Normally, the yatra begins in mid-June and continues till September with approximately 14 groups of pilgrims being sent every week. Announcing the postponement of the yatra, the external affairs ministry said on Thursday that the draw for the selection of yatris was also being postponed. The draw would be held once there was confirmation of the yatra and the number of batches and the yatris would be adjusted according to the amount of delay.

Trinidad's Dattatreya Yoga Center

Posted on 2003/5/25 9:47:02 ( 1104 reads )


FREEPORT, TRINIDAD, May 25, 2003: Trinidad's Dattatreya Yoga Center is currently undergoing a massive renovation, as reported in yesterday's HPI. H.H. Sri Ganapati Sachidananda Swami of Mysore, India, head of the yoga center will be attending the June inauguration ceremonies. In front of Sri Swami's residence, a small Karyasiddhi Hanuman under a mandapam has been constructed. Less than 200 feet away is the gigantic form of Lord Hanuman, 80 feet tall. The existing prayer hall is being renovated in traditional south Indian Temple architecture. The Datta temple, Devi Temple, Ganapati temple and Siva temple are being newly built with traditional temple towers and a front welcome tower. Twenty artisans from South India have been in Trinidad for the last two years working on this project. A detailed schedule of the events is available at "source" above along with photos of the temple construction.

Swami Chinmayananda is New Minister of State for Home Affairs

Posted on 2003/5/25 9:46:02 ( 1376 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 25, 2003: Yesterday Swami Chinmayananda, a sannyasin or Hindu monk, was taken into the Vajpayee Government as Minister of State for Home Affairs. Swami has the distinction of being the only saint in the Vajpayee government at the moment and as minister of state for Home Affairs, he will report directly to L.K. Advani.

Pushpagiri Math at Tirumala

Posted on 2003/5/25 9:45:02 ( 5234 reads )


PUSHPAGIRI, INDIA, May 24, 2003: Head of Pushpagiri Peedam, His Holiness Vidya Nrusimha Bharathi Swami, has been working to spread Vedic dharma, moral values and virtues in the people of Andhra Pradesh. The Pushpagiri Mahasamsthanam has now constructed the Pushpagiri Mutt (monastery) at Tirumala on a piece of land given by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam at Medarmetta, Ring Road, for the convenience of devotees for performing marriages, upanayanams (sacred thread ceremony) and other religious functions, and including accommodation. This mutt was inaugurated by His Holiness Sri Madabhi Navoddanda Sri Nrusimha Bharathi Swamiji. The Pushpagiri Mutt is also planning to take up construction of similar mutts for the convenience of devotees at Sri Kalahasti, Sri Gyana Saraswathi Temple, Basar, Sri Thiruchanur Alamelumangapuram and Tenali within the next one year. Besides these projects, reconstruction and modernization will be undertaken at Pushpagiri, the abode of Pushpagiri Peedam in Cuddapah district.

Connaught Place Hanuman Temple Gets Protected Status

Posted on 2003/5/25 9:44:02 ( 1033 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 22, 2003: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Thursday issued a notification to declare the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place a protected monument. Some other ancient temples in Delhi and other states may also be extended ASI's protection as part of a campaign launched by Tourism and Culture Minister Jagmohan to improve conditions in and around important religious shrines and pilgrimage spots. In a letter to the ASI director-general, Jagmohan said: "The Hanuman temple in New Delhi is an ancient monument which is visited by hundreds of people daily. Like the Kalkaji Temple, its antiquity is being ruined and its sanctity undermined. After visiting the site, I have decided that, as in the case of Kalkaji Temple complex, this temple should also be protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958," he wrote. After allowing two months for the public to register objections to the move, the archaeological body will issue a final notification.

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